Friday, August 1, 2008

"Flyin" Home

So, why in the world would I stay in Cincinnati? Two reasons. Shortly after breakfast, I went to President Taft’s birthplace (1857 was the year) which is north of the downtown area. Another pin in my National Park map. I had no idea he was also a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court after his term. That little bit of trivia is going to win me a lot of money on Jeopardy some day! He is also the first President to throw out a baseball at a game.

From there, Dayton is just a short trip up I-75. The Park Service really took the ball and ran with it forming the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historic Park. On the grounds of Carillon Park, tucked away in temperature controlled facility, but still on public display, sits the 1905 Wright Flyer III. The ’03 flyer I, the Wright Brothers plane in the famous Kitty Hawk photo, is at the Smithsonian. The ’04 Flyer II, was cannibalized with some of its parts going to the Flyer III, considered by most to be the first true flying machine. It is all original except for the fabric It’s partial reconstruction was supervised by Orville himself in the 1940’s. (Wilbur had long since died, but that is not him as a taxidermic mount in the photo). They also had a Van Cleve, the model of bicycle built by the Brothers. A few hundred where made but only a few are known to exist. I was in Dayton last summer and saw a lot of the Wright Brothers stuff, but I could not get to the park before it closed. I figured this would be a great time to do it.

And so, it was with those final glimpses of the Wright Flyer that my vacation basically ended. The drive back home was uneventful. I thought it was fitting to end my vacation with a flying craft that was inspired by birds, the inspiration for my vacation. Along the way, some battlefields, brew
s, family and friends. But something was different on this trip compared to my two previous vacations. On those, I was feeling a bit tired and homesick. I was spending more money than I planned. Ultimately, they combined and it was enough to make me come home early. This trip? No way. I had no inclination to return home (even though I knew I had to). I easily could have stayed on the road another week, perhaps more. Easily.

So, if you have actually read this report, you might be wondering what the water tower photos are all about. I have some friends who recently moved to Louisiana. Before they left, they asked me a favor. It turns out they have a nephew, Jeff. He is a special needs 43 year old. But, for whatever reason, he really digs water towers. Bruce and Linda, for a few years now, have been snapping photos of water towers when they travel. Jeff has a binder with tower photos from all over. It is quite possible he has the largest photographic collection of water towers in the country. Seriously now, who else does this?

So, I was happy to take some photos of these things as I moved about the country. I have a job, a home, family, friends, my health, hobbies, etc. Jeff, on the other hand, is in a totally different world. Oh sure, I could have been really pissed that I missed the Flame-colored Tanager or Bachman’s Sparrow, but so what. Really—so what. Jeff can’t even read or write. Episodes like this really bring things into a different light. So while I was gallivanting around the countryside, if I could take 5 minutes of my day, snap a quick photo of a water tower and brighten somebody else’s’ day, I’m happy to do it. I look forward to doing more in the future.

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